In the Huffington Post, Jessica Elgot has a long review of the free speech issues of 2012. It features many quotes from yrstrly, speaking on behalf of English PEN. Mike Harris of Index on Censorship also gives his twenty penn’orth.
BNP Chairman Nick Griffin MEP has just caused a bit of a Twitter storm by publishing the address of a gay couple who sued a Christian B&B couple who refused them board.
I spend a lot of time on this blog defending the right of bigots and racists to say horrible things, online and in person. However, I think this superficially anodyne tweet might actually cross the line into territory I would not defend.
Why? Well, first, there is an invasion of privacy. Griffin is a public figure with a large Twitter following. The couple in question have a reasonable expectation that their address will not be broadcast.
More importantly, the tweet could be considered inciting violence and harassment. In a followup, Griffin said a ‘British Justice Team’ (whatever that is) should visit to give them ‘a bit of drama’. If it were my address that had been published, I would feel harassed and terrorised and probably go and stay elsewhere for a few days.
BNP supporters have taken to scrawling the party’s website onto toilet walls, presumably as part of some guerilla-marketing strategy. It has the odd effect of making me think of the BNP every time I take a dump.
Surely, the need to stoop to this rather pathetic level – graffitio on toilet walls next to cottagers’ phone numbers – would make such activists stop and think. Like the throatless smoker who still inhales via his tracheotomy, or the heroin addict who has to inject into his eyeball to get a decent hit, these campaigners seem to lack a certain self-awareness.